Hurricane Florence's path: Track the storm here

Katie Ramirez
September 16, 2018

Hurricane Florence has swollen to near category five status as it threatens the state of North Carolina on the United States' East Coast, captured in dramatic satellite videos released by USA government agencies.

According to the most recent data from the National Weather Service, Florence is now a category 4 hurricane with 130 miles per hour winds.

More than a million people are expected to flee low-lying areas, as SC and Virginia ordered mandatory evacuations of coastal areas starting on Tuesday.

Hurricane Florence appears to have weakened slightly but is expected to restrengthen later on Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory.

Mandatory coastal evacuations were in effect for civilians in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, but the military base posted on Facebook that different chains-of-command would decide whether to release non-essential personnel, and some relatives vented fears that they wouldn't be able to evacuate in time.

As has been previously announced, the USC campus is closed beginning Tuesday and until further notice per South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster's order.

The National Weather Service says more than 5.4 million people live in areas now under hurricane warnings or watches on the U.S. East Coast. That also means that colossal weather systems like Hurricane Florence are easy to observe as the spacecraft cruises along.

Florence was "rapidly strengthening", with maximum sustained winds increased to 105 miles per hour, making it a Category 2 storm, the second-weakest on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.

South Carolina's emergency helpline is active at 1-866-246-0133 for anyone with questions related to the storm. Tens of thousands of people are also expected to seek higher ground along coastal areas of North Carolina. The state's emergency management agency said it is "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

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In Wilmington, Anita Harrell said she waited 90 minutes at a Home Depot on Tuesday to get plywood, intending to board up her home and business.

For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge.

Preparations for Florence come as the Atlantic hurricane season hits its peak.

"This storm is strong and it's getting stronger", Cooper said. He said that the hurricane could only be captured on a super-wide lens, even from 400 kilometres up.

Chief Thavenet said they will not operate in high winds.

Meanwhile, two other storms were also spinning in the Atlantic.

The town of Bluffton said McMaster's order includes the evacuation and closing of hospitals and nursing home facilities. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

Millions evacuatedHurricane Florence has prompted North Carolina residents to stockpile supplies as many are evacuated. Photos taken from space show just how imposing this storm really is.

Lining up behind Florence, Isaac was about 1,150 miles (1,855 kilometers) east of the Windward Islands with top winds of 75 mph (120 kph) early Monday, moving west at 14 mph (22 kph).

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